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Let the Money Burn

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Click, clack. The streets of New York were filled with the cold, hollow sound of heels hitting the pavement. It seemed that I was the only free spirit among an army of robotic minions. I strode through thousands of people in finely tailored black suits, carrying leather briefcases; they seemed to be marching to the sounds of the present clicking of stilettos.

As I walked, I wondered if New York had carved out Diana’s spirit, transforming her into and unrecognizable version of herself. It seemed impossible. Memories of climbing trees by the old stream in small town Midland Park were still fresh in my mind. Sure, it had been a few years since we said our goodbyes, but I couldn’t help but picture Diana; the girl who was there no matter what, the girl who dreamed of cleaning up the environment, the girl who lived life uninhibited.

So many nights I would show up on her porch sobbing from my latest screaming match with my father where he’d give me the, “You’ll never make it as an artist” speech. His dark fiery eyes would flicker as he said, “Go find a REAL job that will support you. Earning a good amount of money to support yourself should be the most important thing right now.” He didn’t understand me at all, so I’d escape to someone who did.

After I relayed the most recent argument to Diana, she would take me gently by the shoulders and say “Lily, the worst thing in the world is being confined. Never do something for the money. Do what you love. Let the money burn.” In that moment everything seemed to become clearer. She straightened out her long flowing skirt, gave me a smile and whispered in a soothing voice, “You’ll be fine.” The radiance of her deep blue eyes cast a glow over her light complexion and surged confidence back into my spirit.

As the memories faded, I approached the café where Diana suggested we meet. I pulled open the large glass door and walked inside. “Lily?” I turned around and was astonished. There she was sitting in a finely tailored black suit, brief case at her stiletto covered feet, sipping a cup of black coffee.

Still in shock, I searched quickly for a response, “Diana!” She stood up and gave me a hug but it wasn’t as comforting as I remembered. I sat down across from her with an uneasy feeling.

“What have you been up to?” I asked. “Still saving that environment?”

She gently chuckled. “No, I actually went a different way. I’m one of New York’s top stock investors.”

I was dumbfounded. The words pierced through me like bullets. “What happened to living free and burning the money?”

“I realized that money is the glue that keeps society together and I feel like it is a more practical approach…” Who the hell was sitting in front of me? The beautiful free flowing hair I remembered was now in a tight bun accentuating a sickly paleness, most likely from being stuck on the trading floor at all hours. We sat and sipped our coffee exchanging superficial words. As the conversation came to a close, she took a couple dollars out of her wallet and slid it across table to tip the waiter. As it moved past the flickering candle at the center, the edge of the bills got singed by the flame. She quickly patted the money to extinguish the possible fire, then looked up at me and gave a weak smile. All I could think was “Let the money burn.” I gave her a hug goodbye and as she walked out the door I could hear her heels hit the pavement with an ever so familiar click, clack.





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